Ski Run BID wants thorough audit of Measure S funds |

Ski Run BID wants thorough audit of Measure S funds

Susan Wood

While El Dorado County’s audit of Measure S funds is expected to be completed in a month, and the board of the three member agencies meets again, a Ski Run business improvement district has thrown another cog in the wheel of the recreation initiative passed six years ago.

The BID wants an accounting of its own from the South Lake Tahoe local government so property owners may devise an annual budget come September. Otherwise, the district may dissolve, board member Jerry Birdwell of the Black Bear Inn warned.

Measure S funds were intended to pay for maintenance of improvements such as landscaping, snow removal and bike trail repair, but Birdwell claims it’s unclear how much money the city has collected from businesses and residents, and what it has spent relative to the initiative.

Measure S bond and tax proceeds amounting to $8.7 million have all been used up, primarily in construction of an ice arena, ballfield and improvements to Tahoe Paradise Park in Meyers – one of the three entities under the Joint Powers Authority with the city and county. After the debt is serviced, the JPA figured it has about $200,000 in reserve each year.

The BID board will meet with Finance Director Christine Vuletich in mid August in the hopes of adding clarity to the confusion, Birdwell added.

“We want to know how much money is in the BID and how much money is in Measure S. Without the accounting, there are people on the street who want to disband,” he said.

Birdwell said the BID would like more control over the management of the funds based on arising issues such as an erosion control repair needed in front of the Bart’s Tahoe apartment complex located next to Birdwell’s bed and breakfast. After the board received a $600 estimate on the job, the city presented the district with a bill for $2,100, Birdwell said.

“It’s the city’s responsibility to collect those funds. It’s none of my business how much my neighbor pays. It is my business if they pay,” he said.

City Manager Dave Jinkens said he plans to address specific questions that come up and asked: “Why wouldn’t they require (an audit) done every year?”

Jinkens said that perhaps the city having to pay prevailing wage may have led to the higher bill on the job.

“I don’t think there’s any problem that can’t be solved,” he said.

At issue: the $10,000 a year provided to the district is not enough to cover expenses, Birdwell contends.

“It’s hard to tell how much (is needed),” he said. “It’s frustrating.”

At this point, it’s also unclear exactly how the JPA spent the maintenance money. County Auditor Joe Harn said he plans to have a report by the time of the meeting on Aug. 31. A few items have been questioned, and city board member Hal Cole said he wants to get to the bottom of it.

“The audit should follow every check written out of the JPA. It’s mandated. Then, if the public has questions, they can ask the jurisdictions,” Cole said Monday.

The JPA board consists of Cole, newly installed county Supervisor Norma Santiago as chairwoman for the county, and Michael Clark with the park district. City Councilman John Upton is the one paid staff person on the JPA, a job he took on before taking office in 2002.

“They may ask me to go deeper if an item is questioned in the member-agency reports,” county Auditor Joe Harn said.

City resident Bill Crawford, a former city councilman who’s running for that office again in November, said he still wants to know more about how the money was spent and see oversight on those practices.

The city has absorbed criticism claiming it fell short of its commitment on constructing more ballfields and associated amenities other than the one located off Al Tahoe Boulevard. And the park district has received questions over expenditures made by the caretaker on the district-owned house.

Taxpayers chip in $18 a year in tax proceeds. Tahoe Paradise Park gets $50,000 a year in disbursements, and the city shells out $5,000 a mile in bike trail improvements.

Crawford responded with a return to the basics when it became unclear to him who has oversight.

“The taxpayers pay to the JPA,” he said.

The JPA board met last Thursday to discuss the matter.

Measure S Joint Powers Authority Meeting

Aug. 31, 1 p.m.

Lake Tahoe Airport

Council Chambers

1901 Airport Road

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